The Everest: Redzel's part-owner Peter Piras mirrors fight of orphan foal

Red-letter day: Kerrin McEvoy rides Redzel to victory in the Concorde Stakes. Photo: AAP
Red-letter day: Kerrin McEvoy rides Redzel to victory in the Concorde Stakes. Photo: AAP

Peter Piras knows what people think of him from a few seconds of crazy vision captured by a TV camera.

You know who he is by now, the over-exuberant bloke who part owns Redzel – with the red-framed sunglasses to boot – wildly pointing at the lens when his horse wins.

Want to know why there is such unbridled joy in those few moments? It's about the only time he doesn't feel pain.

When the bones aren't hurting. The chemotherapy is briefly forgotten. The kidney feels OK. The eye can see clearly. When that horrible diagnosis one late December almost 20 years ago – "two days before Christmas, what a present" – doesn't matter.

Because his horse has fought off every challenge – and challenger – just like he's tried to.

"And after he wins a race it feels like the pain has gone," leukemia sufferer Piras says.

Even this week, when his horse is just days away from running in the $10 million The Everest, Piras is fighting. He's had "a couple of bad nights with the bones" as a result of a previous bone-marrow transplant and has barely slept.

He struggles to keep weight on and once needed almost a year for a foot fracture to heal naturally, his steady dose of tablets meaning surgery is never really an option for any ailment.

But when he looks at Redzel it's like looking in a mirror.

His horse was an orphan foal who lost his mother Millrich, a star broodmare, just weeks after he was born. And he's fought all the way to a spot in the world's richest turf race.

"I see not only me [in Redzel], but it's the story behind him," Piras says.

"My mother lost her mum at a very early age and when she heard the story herself she knew exactly how that horse felt. And how hard it is. It would have had to fight to even survive. It's a match made in heaven.

"It takes mental power to keep going and it's amazing what your mental capacity can do."

As recently as this year Piras, who has dabbled in the restaurant game in Wollongong, was driving to Rosehill to watch Redzel in The Galaxy when he was caught up in a car accident.

His vehicle was a write-off. He broke four ribs and bruised his lung. Paramedics wanted him to get some further treatment.

He just wanted to see his horse, which was ultimately pipped by Russian Revolution in search of his first group 1 win.

"I had to lie to the ambulance [staff] so I could make it to the races," Piras laughs. "I was in so much pain and he nearly did it."

Then there was the time he felt so weak driving himself to the races he pulled over three times. But still didn't miss Redzel, whose group 1 win eventually came during the Brisbane winter carnival.

It was about as good as it got for Piras and Triple Crown's syndicate of owners, who will race the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained sprinter under James Harron's slot at Randwick on Saturday.

Piras often used to scour Magic Millions catalogues on the eve of sales and marked out a Snitzel colt. To his surprise, he noticed after it had gone through the ring Michael and Chris Ward's Triple Crown had bought him. He got on the phone immediately and asked for a share to be reserved for him.

He encouraged some friends and his dad to join him, but his father, a liver transplant recipient himself, had been scarred by a money pit which had been a previous horse he'd raced. He didn't want in.

"I said to dad, 'trust me, this horse will win you money back'," Piras says.

Little did he know how much. So even despite Piras representing Australia in previous Transplant Games competitions, Redzel is now his sporting pursuit.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for a donor and I want to make sure donor awareness is so important," Piras says.

"People can save a life with a simple process of ticking a box. These days you never know. It could be your family, you ... anyone can get sick. Without that I wouldn't be here, my dad wouldn't be here and so many others wouldn't be here.

"And this horse not only keeps me going, but also my family."

Which is why Piras will battle his bones this week and make it to Randwick to watch his horse, the one with "a big heart who is like a pitbull".

The cameramen know who he is by now. They'll be close by waiting for the television gold.

And if Redzel wins The Everest?

"I will go crazy," Piras jokes.

You wouldn't blame him.